President follows his own advice and "goes big" with a Twitter valentine for the First Lady and a farm-to-table dinner cooked by the executive chef...
"Do not forget" Valentine's Day and "go big," President Obama advised America's husbands and boyfriends on Tuesday morning during a speech on the White House campus. True to his word, the President escorted First Lady Michelle Obama to a Valentine's Dinner at Vermilion Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. The eatery offers a menu of "simple, farm-driven American cooking," and the chef's special four-course tasting menu for the evening featured those Obama favorites, steak and lobster. The First Couple will mark their twentieth wedding anniversary next fall, and tonight's 1-1/2 hour celebration was the first time during the Presidency that Mr. Obama has actually taken his wife out for dinner on Valentine's Day. (Above: The President arrives at Vermilion)
The motorcade arrived shortly after 7:25 PM at the eatery located across the river from the White House in the heart of Old Town. The President, in a dark jacket with a white shirt and tieless, was spotted exiting his SUV. There was no sighting of Mrs. Obama. Earlier in the day, the President had tweeted a Valentine to his beloved. (Above: The President and Mrs. Obama at a White House event on Monday)
"Hey, @MichelleObama: Happy Valentine's Day. -bo," the President wrote on the @BarackObama account.
That was after he gave advice to America's "gentlemen":
"Let me start with a quick public service announcement for all the gentlemen out there: Today is Valentine’s Day," the President said to laughter from his audience. "Do not forget. I speak from experience here. It is important that you remember this. And go big--that's my advice."
Going big for Valentine's Day this year meant Vermilion's Executive Chef Anthony Chittum, a Maryland native, was in the kitchen and personally cooked for the Obamas, according to the terse manager who was fielding post-dinner queries from media. The restaurant spotlights regional farmers, foragers and purveyors on its menu, naming suppliers from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The special four-course Valentine's Day tasting menu was $59 without wine pairings, and $85 with. The restaurant has received 2.5 stars from the Washington Post, and was named to Washingtonian magazine's Top 100 list in 2011.
The President was spotted drinking a martini, while Mrs. Obama enjoyed a glass of red wine. They ordered off the tasting menu, and both finished with the chocolate truffle tart, rather than the dessert included on the menu.
The Vermillion manager--who would not give his full name, but identified himself as "Matt"-- declined to provide any other details about the Presidential dinner, saying that the White House had requested silence--and that Vermilion wished to "respect the President and First Lady's privacy."
The last Presidential restaurant outing for Valentine's Day was in 2009, when the President escorted Mrs. Obama to chef Art Smith's Table Fifty-Two in Chicago, on Feb. 15.
Vermilion's Valentine's Day Chef's Tasting Menu (spelling inaccuracies not corrected):
Lobster Tortelloni, with davon crest chilies, fines herbes, lemon & roasted shellfish sauce.
Wine pairing: 2010 Domaine de la Bergerie Chenin Blanc Anjou, France
Today’s Atlantic Fish, served with chef’s preparation of market ingredients
Wine pairing: 2006 Aladame 1er Cru Chardonnay Montagny, Burgandy, France
Maryland All Natural Beef Strip Loin, with baby potato confit, wilted mizzuna, local onions & salsa verde
Wine pairing: 2008 Celler Cecilio “billo” grenache blend priorat, spain
The First Couple left Vermillion Restaurant at 9:07 PM, and they were back inside the White House at 9:24 PM. "The return trip was uneventful," pool reported. The pool was held at nearby Hard Times cafe as the President and Mrs. Obama celebrated.
Information: Vermilion Restaurant is at 1120 King Street Alexandria, VA 22314. Phone: (703) 684-9669.